Cubs and fans exhibit real grit
Director of Technology Paul Blair, left, and Special Education Teacher Josh Hares, right, hold up the Cubs banner next to the signs that represent the Middle School’s emphasis on Grit. They also stand in the cafeteria with the students they hope to teach about the importance of failing forward, and perseverance. Blair found a kindred Cubs spirit when Hares started in the district this fall. Hares said he was practically born cheering for the Cubs, even though the family lived in NY.
Ask Paul Blair about those Cubs, and you get lessons in history, loyalty, perseverance and learning.
Blair, the district’s director of technology, was born in Chicago and grew up in northern Indiana. He was introduced to the Cubs by his great grandmother who steadfastly watched Cubs games on WGN out of Chicago from her house in northern Indiana. (At Blair’s family home a few towns away, the television couldn’t pick up WGN).
“When we visited her on Sundays and the Cubs were playing, everything stopped,” he said.
He remembers sitting with her and watching games on her black and white TV. When she got a color TV in 1968 “I realized the Cubs really were red, white and blue,” he said.
“My great grandmother is the only person I ever knew who was alive when the Cubs won the last time,” he said.
“I grew up watching Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins,” two of the greatest players “who never played in a World Series.”
When the Cubs won the World Series in 1908, his great grandmother didn’t find out for two days, Blair said. “It shows how different the world was at that time” in many ways, including communication. “She spent the next 73 years waiting for them to win again and they never did.”
Together, they kept watching and cheering. He remembers her saying, year after year, “Next year is our year.”
Blair’s great grandmother died in 1981 at the age of 102, still waiting for a World Series win. Even after her death, in all those years when they couldn’t win for losing, Blair never stopped rooting for those Cubs. To give up on them, he said, “would have been a disservice to my great grandmother.”
He carried her banner of enthusiasm, learned long ago on her couch in front of a black and white TV in northern Indiana. “There was always, always the belief that next year would be our year,” he said.
The belief. Perseverance. The belief that a goal can be reached. Never giving up.
Blair – whose full title is Director of Innovation, Instructional Design, and Technology – describes the district’s motto about learning. "Learning is not some of the time; it's all of the time - for all of us," and the importance of “failing forward,” knowing that trying and failing is what promotes learning. He finds some humor about this and his team. “For decades I didn’t think they had learned from their mistakes. The idea is not to have repeated failure for more than 100 years.”
But in the end, the Cubs did persevere. And they won again. And the great grandson watched it all, from his couch in Central New York, and said a cheer in honor of his great grandmother.